Kala Jatheri nabbed: On a gangster’s trail for 10,000km across 12 states
They were made to believe he was in Dubai. But the police teams desperately looking for Sandeep alias Kala Jatheri knew it was a ploy to throw them off his trail. They finally got the first lead about his close partner, Anuradha Chaudhary, from Goa. From there, across 12 states, the Delhi police special team tracked Jatheri to a dhaba near Sarsawa toll plaza on Saharanpur-Yamuna Nagar highway. He was arrested with Chaudhary on Friday, bringing down curtains on what police officers claimed was a 10,000 kilometres chase.
Sharing details of the hunt on Saturday, the police said 30 personnel of special cell were involved in the operation that continued for almost four months. The operation was code named ‘Op D-24’ to signify that the “criminal was 24 hours ahead of the police”, police said.
Jatheri carried a reward of ₹7 lakh on his arrest, and was wanted in nearly 40 cases of dacoity, robbery, extortion and attempt to murder.
The gangster was in the disguise of a Sikh man to avoid identification, and was travelling in an SUV with Chaudhary towards Punjab, the police said. Chaudhary was associated with Rajasthan gangster Anand Pal Singh, who was killed in an encounter in the state in 2017. The Rajasthan Police declared ₹10,000 reward on her arrest. Jatheri addressed Chaudhary as his “Revolver Rani” while she was famous among Rajasthan’s ganglords as “Madam Minz”, the police said.
Born in 1984 in Sonepat, Jatheri escaped from the Haryana Police’s custody in Faridabad, after his seven associates stormed the prison van carrying the gangster to Bhondsi Jail from the Faridabad court on February 1 last year.
The hunt for Jatheri
Deputy commissioner of police (counter intelligence, special cell) Manishi Chandra said Jatheri lived like a “ghost” as he never showed up since his escape from police custody in 2020. To divert the attention of law enforcement agencies, Jatheri’s gang members perpetuated the rumour that he was operating the gang from a foreign country, said Chandra.
“The first lead came four months ago, when our team received technical inputs about the presence of Jatheri’s gang members in Goa. Although not sure, we sent a team to verify the inputs. The team members got some leads there. They found at least two vehicles with Haryana’s registration number. From Goa, the search led our personnel to Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Delhi,” said Chandra.
The police team found CCTV footage from Tirupati, where Chaudhary was spotted with some gang members. The teams continued following the vehicles that were being used by them. After following them for nearly 10,000 kilometres, the team received specific inputs that Chaudhary and Jatheri were travelling in an SUV towards Punjab. “Our team followed the SUV and caught them at a dhaba near Sarsawa toll plaza on Saharanpur-Yamuna Nagar highway in Uttar Pradesh,” said DCP Chandra, adding that the two were produced before a Delhi court that sent them in police custody for 14 days.
From a mobile snatcher to a gangster
Jatheri and his associates snatched a mobile phone from one Shahar Khan at a liquor shop in Delhi’s Samaipur Badli in 2004, the first crime registered against him. He was caught red-handed and sent to jail.
Jatheri’s name was added to the list of Haryana Police’s most wanted in 2012, when he and his three associates rammed a prison van with a truck near Dulina village of Haryana’s Jhajjar district and opened fire, killing three prisoners — all rivals. Two policemen were also injured in the incident. Jatheri was later arrested and convicted for life in the case.
After his escape in February last year, Jatheri was heading a major international crime alliance, with links to Virender Pratap aka Kala Rana (operating from Thailand), Goldy Brar (based in Canada) and Monty (operating from the UK). This alliance was involved in high-profile extortions, interstate bootlegging, especially in dry states, illegal firearms smuggling and land-grabbing, the police said.
Who is Anuradha Chaudhary?
The second officer said Chaudhary was born in Rajasthan’s Sikar, completed her graduation from a Delhi college and was married to one Deepak Minz. The couple lost lakhs of rupees in share trading. As they were unable to return loans, Chaudhary came in contact with gangster Anand Pal Singh (now dead) and got involved in his crime world in Rajasthan. It is said that she was the one who taught Singh how to speak English, the officer said.